Ban the Backyard

There is a common myth in America that what a happy family needs most is a Big Backyard. (This is similar to the myth that happiness increases in direct proportion to square footage, but that’s a post for another time). Those who do not live in homes at all, or live in homes with little or no yard, envision the big American backyard as some idyllic paradise where romping and ball tossing and having friends over for the annual margaritafest will elevate ordinary familial relationships to a level of almost scripted delight.

This is not only not true, but is the opposite of true: Backyards do not breed happiness. They breed isolation.

Ask any kid where he wants to play and he’ll pick the front yard. Why? Cause other kids are there, or might be soon if he starts riding or skating or drawing on the sidewalk with chalk. And once the kids come out to play, the parents are likely to follow. Parents who would otherwise be sitting alone watching their only child on a jungle gym big enough for a class of preschoolers now find, in the front yard, companionship.......